Your Lipstick May Be Bad for Your Health

lipstickAt this point we're all pretty accustomed to the feeling of being surrounded by health risks, but that doesn't mean that a new one -- from an unexpected source -- doesn't still have the power to unsettle and even shock us. Such may be the case with a new FDA report that 400 lipsticks (400 of them!), from leading brands such as L'Oreal, Maybelline, NARS, and Cover Girl, and many, many others, contain lead. (You can find the list here.)

The FDA maintains that the level of lead found in the lipsticks pose no safety risks, but a consumer group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, has countered that any lead is too much lead. And that in fact of 33 red lipsticks it tested in 2007, most of which contained lead, one-third of them contained lead levels in excess of those allowed by the FDA for candy. Those results are pretty hard to swallow!


The consumer group is pushing for greater legislation of lead in cosmetics. At least some sectors of the medical community are backing it up, noting that the lead we can take in our lipstick can build up and cause problems over time. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cosmetics industry doesn't think there's a problem.

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Personally, I've never been a huge lipstick wearer, though I do like a bit of gloss now and then. Still, I find the idea that there might be lead in my lipstick hugely unsettling. Lead is clearly toxic, potentially creating problems in our nervous systems, our cells, our bones, our kidneys, our brains, our reproductive systems. High doses can affect development and behavior and do serious damage -- even, in extreme cases, killing us.

Do I want this poisonous substance in my lipstick? I do not! Lipstick is supposed to be fun and frivolous, not deadly. It's supposed to make us feel more vibrant and attractive. It's not supposed to kill us.

I know many of us are willing to put up with a lot for our beauty. But there are limits! If painting my lips red means painting my lips lead? I'll embrace the natural look, thank you very much.

What do you think of the FDA's lead-in-lipstick findings and its position that the levels found are perfectly safe?


Image via cerromijares/Flickr

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